On Tuesday, June 2, a small CRATA trail crew built a 12ft. by 6ft. bridge on the Cherokee Bluffs Dam Railroad Trail. This was the last bridge necessary for CRATA to be able to properly maintain the section of trail between the Great Gorge and the Channahatchee Creek. We can now drive our ATV down the trail with the equipment necessary to mow, trim and keep the trail in great shape for our hikers. Thanks to our volunteers for another job well done! Today’s crew included, from left to right, Steve Thomas, Jimmy Lanier, Robert Sweeten, Bill Garnett, Mike Wilson and behind the camera, Walt Hutcheson.


The Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Association welcomes a new volunteer to our team of advisors. Although CRATA created an Instagram account many months ago, we never really utilized it due to a lack of expertise. We now welcome Joshua Bradford, a professional photographer from Auburn, Alabama as a technical advisor and manager of our Instagram account. Joshua will help CRATA to promote the beauty of our hiking trails, outdoor facilities and educational attractions through photos, videos and visitor experiences. Please join us on Instagram at cratalakemartin to help showcase the beauty of central Alabama and the Lake Martin area! If you are posting photos of our trails on your own Instagram page, be sure to tag them with #crata and they may get featured on the CRATA page also.

April 22, 2020 Update – The parking lot is now accessible and you can hike the trails, but areas of the trails near the lake and the creeks are still very wet and sloppy.

April 20, 2020 – Once again the parking lot for our trails at the Yates Lake Forever Wild location is flooded and inaccessible to the public. With the deluge of rain that we received in the area on Sunday, the operators at Martin Dam had to open multiple gates, resulting in flooding on parts of Yates Lake. Please check back here for updates on the status of the John B. Scott Forever Wild trail and the Cherokee Ridge Dam Railroad Trail. We will update this post when the trails are accessible and ready for hikers.


CRATA news concerning COVID-19 requirements – Although all of the CRATA trails remain open for hiking, the public must follow all requirements of the Alabama Emergency State Health Order when visiting and using the facilities at all of our trail locations. Click here to read the health order as posted by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. 

During this period that we are all under the State Health Order, please make good choices while hiking our trails and follow all of the rules for grouping and social distancing. No more than 9 people can hike as a group and each group must maintain a distance of 6 feet between each hiker on the trail. We are asking the public to be even more diligent and considerate when climbing the fire tower at our Smith Mountain location. We are now limiting the number of people in the tower cab at the same time to 4, instead of the normal 10. Also, we ask that only one group of people be on the tower at one time, so that we eliminate people passing each other on the narrow stairway.

Please do your part in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and also avoid being fined for failure to comply with the health order. We have been notified that enforcement officers will be checking our trail locations and enforcing the order.

March 9, 2020 – CRATA recently completed the new donor recognition board and kiosk on top of Smith Mountain. We had hoped to have this completed at the time of the dedication for the Educational Signage Project in the fall of 2019, but there was a delay in getting the cast metal name plaques completed and delivered. We are happy to finally be able to fully recognize all of the donors and contributors for the Firetower Restoration and the Educational Signage Projects. Please take a look on your next trip to the top of the mountain and see all of the people and organizations responsible for making Smith Mountain the family outdoor destination it has become!

The CRATA volunteers working to complete the kiosk were Jerry Bynum, Jimmy Lanier, Harold Banks, Mike Wilson, Bill Garnett and Walt Hutcheson.